Being in Jerusalem = Meeting Traditions = Meeting yourself

Studying at Rothberg International School and become part of student life at the Hebrew University is an intense and very rich experience. Throughout the year we celebrate many traditions from all over the world: from Rosh Hashana to Christmas; and recently both Passover and Easter. Under the guidance of our great ‘Madrichim’ (Student Coordinators [is that the best translation?]) it is as if being in Jerusalem is getting to know the entire world.

Our dear Madrich Eli Benjamin Israel was the leading figure to organize a Chametz Hunt Game. The spirit behind this is the principal from the ancient Jewish tradition to clean the house of all ‘Chametz’ [maybe also need to translate?] just before passover. This festival is eight-days and celebrated by Jews in the early spring. It is connected to the story kept in memory of the emancipation of the early-Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. To commemorate this no chametz is eaten for 8 weaks – since these Israelites had no time to let their bread rise and left with unleavened bread. This is just part of the story and holiday. It contains a message to the world that every living being should be able to be free. In that sense, I guess, it is above all else a celebration of freedom!

After our own Chametz Hunt Game (nobody won, yet everybody won at the same time) we joined in a ‘masterclass’ of painting eggs under the inspiring guidance of Ania Drupka and Lenka Hadarova. Coming from their own traditions in Eastern Europe they taught us how to do this: making holes in the egg as to blow it empty of it’s contents, cleaning, drawing, giving it color and so on. A lovely experience. As with the Chametz one can wonder: why? The reason is more simple than one might expect. Christians celebrate on easter the the resurrection of Jesus Christ which they believe to have happened after his crucifixion and burial. The resurrection refers therefore to coming to life. And that is where our eggs come in: they symbolize, in orthodox traditions and from the early Christians onward, new life as well as the regeneration of those devoting their life to the divine.

The entire Passover / Easter fun night became a time to share about our traditions at home and their meaning. It was a time full of joy, surprises and great stories. It also made me reflect on the world I grew up in. What are the traditions in the societies I have been part of so far? Why do we celebrate certain things? And, above all, what do they (still) mean to me? Being in Jerusalem therefore means not only meeting many different traditions, it also ends up in meeting ourselves – and how we relate to the world around us.

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